Average Dementia Survival: 4.5 Years
Study of Dementia Patients Shows Women Live Slightly Longer Than Men
WebMD News Archive
Dementia and Early Death continued...
Slightly over two-thirds of the people in the study who developed dementia
were women, and the median age at dementia onset was 84 for women and 83 for
The median age at death was 90 for women and 87 for men. And average
survival times varied from a high of 10.7 years for the youngest patients
(65-69 years) to a low of 3.8 years for the oldest (90 or older at
People with higher education levels had slightly shorter survival times than
those with lower education, but the difference was not significant. Living in a
nursing home was also associated with slightly shorter survival than living at
home, but, again, the difference was not significant.
As in other studies, dementia was associated with shorter survival, but the
cognitive level among people with dementia did not appear to play a major role
Caring for Those With Dementia
Researcher Murna Downs, PhD, says most people don't recognize that dementia
is a disease people live with, and not just a death sentence.
Downs' research focuses on quality-of-life issues among dementia
"People with dementia live a long time, and we now know that there is a
lot of awareness," she says. "People assume that if someone doesn't
know where they are they have no other capacity for thinking and feeling. But
people with dementia continue to think and to laugh and to feel the rain on
their faces, and to try to make sense of their world."
She adds that patients are often isolated because family members or other
caregivers fail to recognize their need for interaction and stimulation.
"The therapeutic potential of human contact cannot be
underestimated," she says. "You would never put a small child in a
chair and let them sit there all day with nothing to do. Children need
stimulation and human contact and so do people with dementia."